Fred Olsen - Borealis - Part 1

Day 1 (18th Oct)
Fred Olsen had never really been on our radar, however a last minute opportunity to cruise from Liverpool was just too tempting to resist. 

The other deciding factor was the addition this year of two new ships to the Fred Olsen fleet - The Borealis and the Bolette.

Larger than the usual Fred Olsen ships, these ex HAL additions are smaller (approx 1400 passengers) than the behemoths around and at the moment "smaller" just appeals & winter sun. The itinerary visited the Azores but was changed by Fred Olsen  later due to the Azores not being in a position to allow cruising to begin. It was booked as a last minute saver fare for a terrace cabin on the promenade deck. Boarding took about 2 hrs including a lateral flow test.
The ship departs exactly on time at 6pm, playing "Ferry, cross the Mersey and We are sailing".

The ship has a very classy and warm ambience with woods and polished mirrors in all areas. New carpets and all the staff are looking very smart and smiley. Our room is excellent and to J's delight a bathtub as promised. 
The terrace door is a wonderful idea, you wouldn't be surprised to see Poirot step out for a morning promenade.
You have two exits to the room one stepping straight onto the teak promenade deck. In case you're wondering it's impossible to see into your room from the outside as the doors are mirrored. I tested it thoroughly from the outside which must have left anyone passing wondering what the hell I was up to . Each terrace cabin also has two classic teak steamer  chairs for your use only.

We take a light bite to eat in the buffet. We had not added a drinks package to this holiday as research had already shown that a) premium brands are not included and  b) Fred Olsen's prices are very reasonable to start with. All prices are in Sterling; a large glass of Sauvignon Blanc or indeed any house wine,will cost you £4.60. All wines were very good.

One thing we were a little nervous about was the two sittings dining system Fred Olsen still operates but personally we have always preferred open dining, on our own. We have been allocated a table for 4 on the first sitting, our preferred time. We strike lucky and are paired with a lovely couple of similar age and interests, perhaps there is a secret algorithm for matching people up.

I had heard good reports regarding MDR food on Fred. Tonight I think we have both had one of the best MDR meal experiences in all our time cruising. I don't know if there's been much refurbishment done other than a Borealis carpet  but this is an elegant & classy room that is lit perfectly.

Secondly the food. Every course was beautifully presented & delicious. The peppered Salmon gravalax was thick and meaty & J's salad was a simple but refreshing watermelon and feta.  The main courses:herb crusted pork loin on a buttery mash with roasted parsnips and carrots, a rich port gravy and deep fried crispy parsnips. A bottle of excellent Languedoc syrah is £19.00.

With such great company we hogged the table until throwing out time and made our way to the theatre. A Campari and soda cost £4.60 - again a fair price. Great entertainment, then we made our way to the crows nest (Observatory on the Borealis). Again what a perfectly sized and atmospheric room. The house band Funky Blue are here most nights and boy are they good, their repertoire spans the decades with Tony on drums ( Mony Tony!) Kev on bass guitar/occasional vocals, Ophelia on vocals, Oscar on some vocals & lead guitar.

One other thing I haven't mentioned is the level of service.  It is superb, there seems to be a waiter or server for almost every guest.

Day 2(19th Oct)

Our first full sea day. As we sailed through the night we had been warned  that gales and rough swell conditions would be encountered. So as we pass St David's and Cornwall this starts to be felt as a gentle roll. The ship seems remarkably stable perhaps harking back to its heritage with HAL as a long distance cruiser and the fact Fred Olsen will be using it for its around the world cruises. Its quite fast - never really dipping below the 18knts mark despite the 4m swell. We have breakfast in bed watching the sun try to rise over the terrace through a grey and misty Atlantic.

It's important on this length of cruise that you can relax into a certain mindset and routine. This is especially true when leaving the British Isles as your first few days will be sea days when heading south for the sun. We always take breakfast in the room then find a quite spot to read. The Borealis has plenty of these areas and the specialty coffee on board is excellent. 

Next, lunch in the MDR.

A good selection, beautifully presented. One main doesn't quite suit J but it's swapped and replaced with no hesitation. We are both feeling a little sleepy after lunch. A combination of the stresses of - wondering if we would a) pass the medical and b) had we filled out all the forms correctly. Combine this with the gentle rocking of the ship and great food and you could put a giant to sleep so as we pass to the west of Brittany we retire back to the cabin. Tonight we are going to try out Vasco one of the specialty restaurants on board.

The food in Vascos is excellent. The concept is simple: you get all the starters as a sharing platter, you choose a main each which is accompanied with all the sides. For mains I had the Goan coconut chicken and J the Fish curry. All very tasty.

Starters above
Desert was an  amazing layered coconut cream cake served with pistachio and cardamon ice cream.


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